Public Policy and Advocacy

Grantmakers in the Arts holds public policy and advocacy as one of its core funding focus areas and believes one of the most important roles we can serve in benefitting our members and the arts grantmaking community – maximizing the impact our sector can have toward increasing access to the arts and realizing racial justice through the arts – comes by way of our public policy and advocacy work. In GIA’s vision for the future, foundations have shifted their foci to increasingly include advocacy and public sector policy and practice.

As part of realizing this vision, we provide programs to teach our members about advocacy and lobbying, the difference between the two, and how grantmakers can support both. GIA advocates for lifelong learning through the arts from early childhood through K-12 and into senior years. Knowing that the arts and arts education cannot be provided without artists, we necessarily advocate for economic justice for artists and other workers.

We are committed to invigorate funding and support for arts education within federal policy, and defend that every resident has access to the arts as part of well-rounded, life-long education. Over the past several years, raising the visibility of the arts in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in its legislative form. GIA and Penn Hill Group continue these advocacy efforts around the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), guiding GIA members and their grantees in advocating for new or expanded arts programs at their local schools and districts. Organized since 2012, GIA’s Arts Education Funders Coalition (AEFC) has worked to address identified needs in comprehensive arts education and to strengthen communication and networking among arts education funders.

The AEFC includes members from Americans for the Arts, Arts Education Partnership, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, among others. Advised by a committee of Coalition members, GIA engaged the services of Washington, D.C.-based Penn Hill Group, a firm with education policy expertise and experience working with diverse education groups to research, develop, and promote educational policy strategies.

Most recently, GIA worked with Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) on the development of the Arts Education for All Act, the broadest arts education policy bill ever introduced in Congress. In Spring 2021, GIA influenced the U.S. Department of Education to highlight the importance of equitable access to arts and culture when determining how to reopen schools. Additionally, GIA emphasized the need to make explicit how this access was racialized prior to the pandemic. Addressing this inequity was essential to effective reopening and remains essential to the adequate provision of comprehensive, well-rounded education.

In addition to Arts Education focused policy work, GIA advocates and lobbies for lifelong learning. GIA is delighted that, in 2020, Congress passed the Supporting Older Americans Act including our recommendations that the Administration on Aging include the arts in the issues to be identified and addressed and be included among supportive services for older Americans.

Another way we are realizing this vision is through the inaugural 2022 GIA Cultural Policy Learning Series and Action Lab, which focuses on such issues as racial equity & transformational practice in the public sector, translating between sectors and planning toward action.

We continue to advocate and lobby for economic justice for workers, including artists. GIA has successfully lobbied to include arts-related provisions in the Child Care for Working Families Act, which proposes to better help low-income families pay for childcare and expand high-quality state preschool options. GIA advocated for AmeriCorps to make national volunteer service more accessible by offering an increase in living allowances. We have also called for arts grantmakers to advocate for portable benefits for workers.

GIA is eager to continue informing the field’s support for advocacy, to advocate for national policies that enhance lifelong access to the transformative power of arts and culture that create economic justice for artists and other workers.

October 4, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

"On the evening of Thursday, September 28, dozens of Brooklyn Museum union workers lined the institution’s grand entrance, chanting 'overworked and underpaid' and 'ancient art, not ancient wages.' Visitors to the museum’s Open House, an event celebrating the revamped Asian and Islamic art galleries, streamed in through different entrances in an attempt to circumvent the protestors," said Elaine Velie for Hyperallergic.

"Employees at the Brooklyn Museum officially unionized in August 2021 and began contract negotiations with museum leadership in January of this year. While the two parties have reached tentative agreements on some non-economic issues, they have yet to come to terms on healthcare and wages."

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September 12, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

From the White House Briefing Room: "At the national level, NEA Chair Jackson will participate in the United We Stand Summit, alongside National Endowment for the Humanities Chair Lowe, and will be partnering on a messaging initiative in future months. We extend an invitation for you to join us for this important, first-of-its-kind event, with information on how to watch the summit forthcoming. The arts and culture have an important role to play in this issue. As we all know, the arts help us develop the skills needed to find connection, common purpose, and recognition of our shared humanity. They are an integral part of America's civic infrastructure: the norms and agreements that we rely on to care for one another. In this time of division and polarization, strengthening this civic infrastructure through the arts is paramount."

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June 24, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

As Philanthropy New York has been solidifying its commitment to centering racial equity, our programming and networks have evolved as well. One of YLBC’s intentions now reads, 'building a more networked philanthropic sector dedicated to equitable, inclusive, collaborative and innovative philanthropy,'" said Donita Volkwijn, Senior Director, Member Engagement, Philanthropy New York.

"Not everyone is as lucky to have the kind of boss that operated in the values stated above. Goodness, I haven’t always been that lucky and the unlucky moments have come about largely because of how I identify. At this point, most people (at least the ones reading this piece) recognize how racism can cut people off from opportunity. What is harder to recognize is how racism denies members of the BIPOC community the opportunity to learn and grow."

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May 23, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

"Events at the Whitney Museum of American Art this year have featured a consistent new guest: the museum’s union. Last night, at the museum’s annual gala and Studio Party, about 50 people turned out, standing on the curb with signs bearing such slogans as 'LIVING ARTISTS LIVING WAGES,' 'HONK FOR A FAIR CONTRACT,' and 'WHITNEY WORKERS WANT FAIR WAGES' and banging on drums as guests filed into the museum’s lobby for a luxe dinner," said artnet news. "Compared to the demonstration that followed the opening of the Whitney Biennial, it was a clear increase in participation, plausibly stemming from a wage offer on April 19 that fell far below the union’s proposal."

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May 9, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

From JPMorgan Chase: "New JPMorgan Chase PolicyCenter brief recommends asset and income restriction reforms."

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May 5, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

“Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the Advancing Equity Through the Arts and Humanities Act to acknowledge the role that arts and humanities play in dismantling systemic racism in the United States."

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April 25, 2022 by Eddie
For more on GIA’s disability justice focused online learning, check out our recent webinar Disability Justice in Arts and Culture Funding and join us at our upcoming webinar Disability Justice for Individual Artists: Cap, SNAP, Solution on May 31 at 11am PDT / 2pm EDT.

GIA is advocating for policies that increase the amount of assets that people with disabilities can hold while remaining eligible for public benefits because disabled artists – indeed, all workers – deserve to get paid for their work and to build savings, even when circumstances – like a disability – prevent them from working a conventional fixed role or schedule. GIA is advocating for disability justice for artists and for all as part of our valuing of intersectionality.

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April 15, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

From National Endowment for the Arts:
"We invite you to join us in sending the below letter to the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee in support of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)."

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April 15, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

"Yesterday, the National Endowment for the Arts joined more than 90 federal agencies in releasing its Equity Action Plan to the public, and shared the plan with stakeholders and partners."

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April 6, 2022 by Nadia Elokdah

“When we fight pipelines, when we fight oil projects, when we fight all of the extractive development that harms our mother, we don’t do that just for ourselves,” Krystal Two Bulls says, director of the LANDBACK Campaign within the Indigenous advocacy organization NDN Collective in Grist. Elaborating, “We do that so we can all actually have an earth to live on in the future. So that future generations that aren’t even born yet have an earth to come to.”

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